I stared at my computer fighting to get one idea in print. It stared back, refusing to give me even one sentence.
The standoff lasted all morning through three cups of coffee. By noon, I was staring at the wine bottle hoping it might offer a few ideas since I couldn’t come up with one.
Finally, I admitted defeat and fled my desk. The blank and uncomprehending face of the computer had won. It had beat me into submission and I couldn’t come up with one word to write about that made sense, even to a desperate man trying to crank out just a few pages on a new article.
There is a small, neighborhood cafe that is my refuge. Good food, nice glass of wine, but most importantly, they let me sit and write at the back table for hours at time without any of those, “time to leave now” mean glances being thrown my way. That I buy a few glasses of wine as rent does keep me going for the needed hours alone.
This morning I needed to escape. The writing had to get done, but it wasn’t going to get done in a staring contest with a screen that hated me. The more I stared, the further away I go from any new ideas that would help me finish this work.
I find sometimes you can sit and try to force your writing and that often goes nowhere leaving you with weak work and a sense of frustration that defeats any creativity you might summons that day. On those days, I grab pen and notebook and run away to the cafe.
All writers eventually find that safe space where the writing dynamics change. You leave a pressured environment, even though the pressure is usually self-induced, and retreat to your go to space where the pressure fades and the creativity rises. It also helps to change tools too.
Good writing is the weird combination of creativity, discipline and purging your soul. You have to tap into the creative mind to find your idea, have the discipline to sit and write every day, then drill into your emotional state to find the magic that makes your writing special.
We often become mechanical when we force ourselves into the same routines every day. Changing tools, such as walking away from your computer and switching over to the lowest tech you can use to get it done — the forever perfect pen and notebook — often frees the mind to stop being a mechanic and start thinking like an artist again.
It is easy to let your routine drown your best efforts. The mind needs stimulation, and mechanically getting up at seven, going to your so very safe writing desk, favorite coffee cup loaded with full strength motivation in hand, makes for a routine, but over time that routine can destroy that slap up side of the head you sometimes need to think again.
I have found through the years, and after thousands of articles and lots of books, that the desk is my place to write what I created in my head somewhere else
It’s like an artist that spends the day walking the woods then coming back to his studio to paint the images that he experienced on that walk.
That same process has been the only way I can work these days. I need the cafe afternoon, or park bench, coffee shop or last seat at the bar, to set my creative side in motion. Then I can come back to my desk and mechanically crank out the work my mind had to go elsewhere to create.